Lawmaker Reintroduces Bill To Eliminate Operation Choke Point

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Gun rights activists hailed a piece of legislation proposed at the end of last week that would protect firearm businesses from being shut off from financial services.

The piece of legislation re-introduced last Thursday by Republican Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkmeyer — called the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act — first passed the House in the last Congress.

The bill carries with it the intent to dismantle the Obama Justice Department program known as Operation Choke Point, an initiative that presented itself as an effort to close down fraudulent businesses by choking off their access to financial services. But the DOJ also included legal businesses they found to be politically offensive, like gun shops and payday lenders.

These lawful businesses were forced to find alternative banking options when the Obama Justice Department put the squeeze on their original financial institutions.

A former Obama DOJ official who helped create Operation Choke Point, Michael Bresnick, admitted that initiative had “collateral consequences” The Daily Signal reported.

“We thank Rep. Luetkemeyer for his longstanding effort to deal with these abuses and look forward to the day when Obama-era politics no longer hinder the success of America’s firearm industry,” the NRA ILA said in a statement.

Luketmeyer’s bill would mandate that regulators that urge or demand a bank to end a client’s account to have “material reason” for terminating that account and to put it into writing, citing laws or regulations that are said to be in violation. Additionally, a bank cannot terminate an account based only on “reputational risk.”

“Last Congress, the House of Representatives took the first step in putting an end, once and for all, to Operation Choke Point by passing my legislation,” Luetkemeyer said. “Although there is a new Administration and Department of Justice in place, this legislation is necessary to ensure that no future Administration will have the opportunity to negatively impact individuals and legal businesses through this unprecedented initiative. We must continue to demand greater transparency and end the practice of allowing government bureaucrats to use personal and political motivations to block financial services to licensed, legally-operating businesses.”

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